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November 2019 – Dennis Balk

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Inaugural artist-in-residence, at Pernice is Dennis Balk. Balk is known for a conceptually rigorous but visually rich work that integrates a broad knowledge of science, culture and place. His interest in all media paired with his understanding of the history of art makes him an optimal visitor to the historic Sicilian property, not to mention his track record of professional engagements that range from New York to Bahrain and Bangkok.

Dr. Cornelia Lauf

Biography

Dennis Balk grew up in Kansas in the 1950s, and remembers being very excited by what visual culture could produce.
He had a Milton Glaser\Bob Dylan poster on his wall as a teen.
At California Institute of the Arts, Balk studied with the first generation of Conceptual artists and this had an impact on him, but not in the way that most would expect.  He wasn’t driven to produce significant gallery works but rather was keen to study how the whole operation of culture makes manifest a piece of art that assumes the role of representing the “who-we-are-now” attitude which culture seamlessly performs.
In New York, Balk was included in the American Fine Arts group which helped him to further his goals as an artist. After staging a few theater works in the downtown theater scene, he was drawn into the politics of contrasting cultures. He moved to the Middle East and pursued work there, moving to several key countries there, exhibiting work and teaching at the college level.. Later, he worked in Bangkok where he designed and managed a university degree at an international university, He did this for a decade. During the entire time in Bangkok, Balk established a fashion brand named Splinter Group which was a blend of his gallery/studio work and the graphics of clothing and merchandise. Producing books and magazines has been a constant occupation and source of inspiration in his life.
Dennis Balk is currently in Richmond, Virginia, where he is working on a large chaptered work which involves a theater-staging, several books, and museum-scale visuals.  (Text courtesy Dennis Balk Studio)

My experience as part of the Pernice Residency Program was a very productive time and place for a particular body of visuals art. The surrounding countryside, the Sicilian countryside was a perfect thematic environment for the work I wanted to further pursue. Many years earlier I had been working up the conceit of a visual theme of raw, original visual material, graphic gestures which would come from a soulful place with true authenticity, disengaged from the social expectations of visual art or at least try to distance myself from the anticipation of reception. Drawing from the resources of the Sicilian country side as well as the visual dynamism of Palermo I was able to reengage in the visuals I had started all that time ago. The family and the people who offered and managed my Residency time were in constant support of what I was trying to accomplish there which is quite unique in this current day. That support allowed a real and particular focus which stays with me still.

D.B.

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